This geek is in love with the developing private space flight industry. If you haven’t been an avid follower, my previous blogs on the President’s 2012 Budget Request for NASA and the latest announcements from X Prize, SpaceX, and Virgin Galactic can get you up to speed.
It is terribly exciting to witness technological advancements stemming from private investment, commercial successes pioneering research and development, and NASA partnering with industry to keep moving the industry forward.
It is moving forward, but it often seems at a snail’s pace.
One essential aspect of the equation appears to be lacking: a catalyst to speed things up. The President’s 2012 Budget Request reduces the funds available to NASA to 2010 levels, but it directs more funds for collaboration between NASA and commercial industry researchers, scientists, and engineers. Perhaps this move will give the space market a much-needed shot in the arm.
I am often tempted to call it the “space race.” Perhaps it’s because the rhythmic phrase rolls off the tongue, or because it was a phrase commonly heard in my youth. The space race refers to a specific period (1957 through 1975) during which the U.S. and U.S.S.R. (not yet Russia) informally competed to send humans into space.
Times have certainly changed.
When I was small, it never occurred to me that anyone in the U.S., other than NASA officials, could possibly put people in space. Nor could I envision people and companies in the private sector building their own spacecrafts, or a popular competition promoting such a goal.
This geek could not have predicted the level of camaraderie and collaboration taking place between not only federal agencies such as NASA and commercial technology companies, but also the U.S. and Russia. Bravo! (And more on that soon….)